Popular Types of Figs and How To Grow Them

by Jack Grover
fig fruit hanging in tree
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If you’re looking to add a delicious and low-maintenance fruit tree to your backyard, fig trees are an excellent choice. With their fast growth and minimal care requirements, they have become increasingly popular among home gardeners.

There are four primary types of figs: common figs, caprifigs, Smyrna, and San Pedro. The ‘common fig’ is the most commonly grown variety for home gardens as it does not require pollination.

Below, we discuss recommended varieties, such as Hardy Chicago, Black Mission Figs, Olympian, and Panache Tiger. Each type has unique characteristics in terms of size, shape, color, taste, and texture.

This article will also provide you with guidelines on planting these trees in suitable climates.

Let’s explore the most popular types of figs and learn how to grow them successfully.

Fig Varieties


When it comes to fig tree varieties, there are four primary types that you should know about: caprifigs, Smyrna, San Pedro, and common figs. 

  • Caprifigs are non-fruit-bearing trees that play a crucial role in pollinating female fig trees. 
  • Smyrna figs bear exclusively female flowers and require pollination from a caprifig tree. 
  • San Pedro figs produce two distinctive crops, one requiring pollination and one not. 
  • Finally, common figs are the most commonly grown variety for backyard planting and don’t require pollination.

Each variety has unique characteristics and growth requirements, so choosing the right one for your specific needs is critical.


Caprifigs are essential for the successful pollination of female figs. They are non-fruit-bearing trees with male flowers, providing the pollen necessary for fertilizing female flowers.

Growing caprifigs requires specific conditions. They thrive in full sun and well-draining soil with a pH level between 6.0 and 6.5.

Watering is necessary during the growing season to promote healthy growth and fruit development. Pruning should be done during the dormant season, removing any dead or diseased branches.

Maximizing fruit production is possible by incorporating caprifigs into a fig orchard or garden. Their role as pollinators is vital for growing high-quality figs with exceptional taste and texture.

With the proper care, caprifigs can help ensure delicious, fresh figs for years to come.


Smyrna figs are sweet and juicy varieties of fruit that many gardeners enjoy. The key to a successful harvest is understanding the importance of pollination.

Smyrna fig trees bear exclusively female flowers and require pollination from a caprifig tree. Otherwise, they won’t produce fruit.

The Calimyrna fig is a popular type of Smyrna fig, known for its golden-yellow fruits with a sweet and nutty flavor. The thick skin and chewy texture make them perfect for eating fresh or using in baking recipes.

San Pedro

San Pedro fig trees are a fantastic addition to any garden. Not only do they offer the unique advantage of producing two distinctive crops, but they also have an attractive appearance.

The trees can grow up to 20 feet tall and spread up to 20 feet wide, with medium to large size figs that can range in color from green to purple. Their juicy, sweet flesh offers a variety of flavors, depending on the cultivar.

For optimal growth and fruit production, San Pedro fig trees should be planted in USDA Zone 8 or higher.

Regular watering and fertilization during the growing season will promote healthy growth. Pruning should be done during the dormant season to remove dead or diseased branches.

With proper care, San Pedro fig trees will bring both beauty and bounty to your garden. The unique advantage of producing two distinctive crops makes them a delightful addition to any space.

Common Figs

Common figs are a great addition to any backyard. They are easy to grow and resistant to many diseases. Their lush green leaves and juicy fruits make an attractive and delicious addition to any garden.

Common figs come in many sizes, colors, and flavors. Celeste, Alma, Brown Turkey, and Purple Genca are the most popular varieties.

  • Celeste is a small to medium-sized brown or purple fig that ripens early.
  • Alma figs have excellent flavor and ripen late in the season.
  • Brown Turkey produces large, tasty figs over a long season with attractive flesh and few seeds.
  • Purple Genca is a large, deep purple variety with sweet red flesh.

With the proper care, common figs will reward you with delicious fruit for years to come.

Fig Tree Types Worth Knowing

Fig Tree

If you’re looking to add a variety of fig trees to your garden, take a look at the list below. It includes some of the best options.

  • The Black Mission Fig produces two crops per year. It has a rich and sweet flavor.
  • The Chicago Hardy Fig is cold and hardy, making it suitable for most parts of the United States.
  • The Olympian Fig produces large fruits that can be enjoyed fresh, dried, or preserved.
  • The Black Jack Fig is a semi-dwarf variety that thrives in containers and produces sweet fruit.
  • The Brown Turkey Fig is known for its medium-sized fruits, perfect for eating fresh.

These fig tree types offer a range of flavors and growth habits to suit different climates and preferences.

When choosing fig varieties for your garden, consider factors such as size, flavor profile, ripening time, and care requirements.

Black Mission Fig

person holding fig

The Black Mission Fig is a highly sought-after and delicious variety of fig tree. It’s renowned for its sweet, honey-like flavor and medium to large-sized fruit with deep purple or black skin and a luscious red interior.

Growing the Black Mission Fig is relatively easy and can be done in warmer climates. It needs to be planted in a sunny spot with soil that drains properly. Temperatures should stay above 20 degrees Fahrenheit, and it’ll need regular watering during dry spells.

Pruning should be done during the dormant season to keep the tree healthy.

Chicago Hardy Fig

Chicago Hardy Fig

The Chicago Hardy Fig is a popular variety of fig tree that can be grown in most parts of the United States. It’s known for its cold-hardy nature and is also resistant to drought and heat.

Regarding the fruit, the Chicago Hardy Fig produces sweet-tasting figs with a brownish-purple exterior and a pink interior.

This tree needs well-draining soil and full sun exposure to ensure successful growth. Regular watering during dry spells is essential, but it shouldn’t be overwatered as this can lead to root rot.

Pruning the tree in late winter or early spring can help maintain its shape.

Olympian Fig

Olympian Fig

The Olympian Fig tree is an excellent option for container gardening. This variety of fig tree is known for its large fruits, which can grow to the size of a tennis ball.

If you live in a region with a cold climate, the Olympian Fig tree is the perfect choice for you. It’s a cold and hardy variety of fig tree that’s suitable for cooler climates and can reach a height of 8-10 feet, making it ideal for small spaces.

The Olympian Fig tree provides a range of uses, from eating fresh to drying or preserving the fruit. When fully ripe, the Olympic Fig has a sweet and juicy flavor with a smooth texture.

To ensure successful growth, plant your Olympian Fig tree in well-draining soil with full sun exposure and provide regular watering and pruning during dormancy. Doing so will help maintain its health and productivity.

Black Jack Fig

Black Jack Fig

The Black Jack Fig tree is perfect for those looking for a sweet, compact option. It can reach heights of 10-15 feet with regular pruning, making it ideal for smaller spaces.

This semi-dwarf fig tree is also known for its striking appearance, with dark purple or brown skin and beautiful pink flesh inside.

The Black Jack Fig performs best in hot and dry climates, but it’s also tolerant to cold temperatures and drought.

To grow this variety successfully, provide it with full sun exposure and well-draining soil. Regular watering is also necessary during dry periods, and mulch should be applied around the tree’s base to help retain moisture.

Pruning should be done during the dormant season to remove dead or diseased branches and encourage new growth.

Brown Turkey Fig

Brown Turkey Fig

The Brown Turkey Fig tree is beloved by gardeners due to its delicious, medium-sized fruit and adaptability to various climates.

This fig variety produces brown or reddish-purple fruits that are perfect for eating. The figs have a sweet, juicy texture, making them a favorite among taste-testers.

The tree can reach heights between 10 and 30 feet when planted in the ground, but it can also be grown in containers for smaller spaces. It is known to produce two harvests of fruit in long-seasoned regions.

To keep your Brown Turkey Fig tree healthy and bearing fruit, it must have well-draining soil and full sun exposure. Regular watering during dry periods is recommended, and pruning should be done in the dormant season to remove dead or diseased branches.

Yellow Fig

Yellow Fig

The Yellow Fig tree is a delightful treat for fig lovers, offering its lucky owners a sweet and candy-like flavor. This variety of fig tree is native to tropical climates but is adaptable enough to thrive in colder regions with some extra care.

The Yellow Fig tree typically grows up to 12 feet tall and produces fruit with bright yellow skin. Its unique flavor is said to taste like candy, making it a favorite for many.

To successfully grow a Yellow Fig tree, you’ll need to provide it with full sun exposure and well-draining soil. Water regularly, especially during dry spells, and fertilize annually to help encourage healthy growth.

In colder regions, the Yellow Fig tree may require some extra protection from frost or freezing temperatures.

Panache Tiger Fig

Panache Tiger Fig

The Panache Tiger Fig is a unique and flavorful fruit. It stands out thanks to its striking green and yellow stripes.

This small-to-medium-sized fig has vibrant red flesh and a sweet, berry-like taste. It needs a warm climate and a long growing season to thrive and typically grows up to 12-15 feet.

Harvest time is typically between August and November.

To cultivate the Panache Tiger Fig successfully, give it full sun exposure and well-draining soil. Water regularly during dry spells and prune it during the dormant season to remove dead or diseased branches.

Suitable Climates

Fig trees are an ideal choice for gardeners looking to add a touch of beauty and delicious fruit to their outdoor space. Although these trees can grow in various climates, choosing the right one is essential for optimal growth and fruit production.

The best climate for fig trees is a Mediterranean-like one with mild winters and hot, dry summers. Generally, fig trees thrive in USDA Hardiness Zones 7 to 10, where winter temperatures rarely drop below 10°F (-12°C). This type of climate provides the perfect conditions for fig trees to produce abundant fruits.

When selecting a suitable climate for growing fig trees, there are three key factors to consider: temperature, sunlight, and rainfall.

  1. The tree cannot tolerate severe cold or frost, so choosing an area with moderate winter temperatures that do not drop below freezing is crucial.
  2. When it comes to sunlight, figs love full sun exposure throughout the day. They need at least six hours of direct sunlight daily for healthy growth and fruit production.
  3. Lastly, while fig trees are drought-tolerant once established, they still need regular watering during their establishment period. Excessive rainfall, however, can lead to root rot, so ensuring adequate drainage in the planting area is paramount.

By taking these factors into account and picking an area within the recommended hardiness zones, you can give your fig trees the perfect environment to thrive.

Different varieties may have slightly different climate preferences, so it’s wise to consult local experts or nurseries for specific recommendations based on your region’s climate conditions.

Growing Tips

Cultivating fig trees can be a rewarding experience, as they’re versatile and hardy plants that can thrive in any climate. Still, you must put in some work to ensure successful growth and a bountiful harvest.

First, consider what variety of a fig tree you’d like to grow. For example, the Chicago Hardy Fig produces medium-sized fruits that are perfect for eating fresh.

On the other hand, the Kadota Fig is ideal for those interested in drying or preserving figs, with its sweet and honey-flavored fruit.

For a unique flavor, try the Violette de Bordeaux Fig. It has a complex and sweet taste with a deep shade of strawberry red flesh.

Next, when planting your fig trees, make sure to choose a site with full sun exposure and well-draining soil with a pH of 6.0 to 6.5. Young fig trees need regular watering until they’re established, and container-grown trees require frequent fertilization during the growing season.

Pruning your fig trees during the dormant season is also crucial for removing diseased or dead branches and encouraging new growth.

Monitor your trees for common pests, including leaf spot, nematodes, mites, beetles, thrips, and rust.

Harvesting Figs

Harvesting figs is a delightful and rewarding experience. With two crops per year, fig trees provide a bounty of sweet, juicy fruit.

Timing is key, as different varieties have different ripening times. When ready, figs should be fully colored, slightly soft to the touch, and easily detach from the tree.

When picking figs, be gentle to avoid bruising the delicate skin. Wear gloves to protect your hands from the sap that can cause irritation.

Once harvested, figs can be enjoyed fresh or used in a variety of recipes, such as preserves, baking, and drying.

To help you choose the suitable variety of fig, here’s a table of popular types and their characteristics:

Variety Size Color Taste Texture Unique Features
Chicago HardyMedium Brown Sweet Chewy Cold hardy
Celeste Small Brown/PurpleSweetSoft Heat tolerant
Black MissionLarge Purple/BlackRich Moist Produces two crops
Violette de BordeauxMedium Deep RedComplex Soft Strawberry red flesh

The Bottom Line

Growing fig trees in your backyard is an outstanding decision. Various fig types are available, such as Celeste, Hardy Chicago, Black Mission Figs, Alma, and King. Thanks to it, you can enjoy a range of flavors and textures.

Remember to consider the specific growth requirements for each type, including soil conditions, watering schedules, pruning techniques, and pest control measures.

Following these guidelines and relying on evidence-based recommendations from horticultural experts, you can successfully cultivate healthy fig trees with abundant fruit harvests. Good luck!

Frequently Asked Questions

Are fig trees self-pollinating, or do they require cross-pollination?

Fig trees are self-pollinating, meaning they do not require cross-pollination. However, certain fig varieties like Smyrna and San Pedro need pollination from a caprifig or male flower to produce fruit.

How long does it take for a fig tree to bear fruit after planting?

On average, it takes a fig tree about three to five years to bear fruit after planting. Yet, this can vary depending on factors such as the fig variety, growing conditions, and care provided.

Can fig trees be grown indoors as houseplants?

Yes, fig trees can be grown indoors as houseplants. Popular indoor varieties include Petite Negra, Little Miss Figgy, and Olympian Fig. Provide them with plenty of sunlight, well-draining soil, regular watering, and occasional pruning to ensure healthy growth.

What are some common diseases or pests that can affect fig trees?

Common diseases and pests affecting fig trees include leaf spot, nematodes, mites, beetles, thrips, and rust. Planting marigolds near fig trees can deter nematodes.

Can fig trees be propagated from cuttings?

Yes, they can. Take a 6-8 inch cutting from a healthy branch during the dormant season. Remove lower leaves and dip in rooting hormone. Plant in well-draining soil and keep moist until roots develop.

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